Retrodictable is a term that I first heard at the design conference in Aspen. The conference was called “The Spirit of Design” and was focused on how design can be made and experienced in ways that transforms our relationship to the world.

There were Buddhist monks who made a mandala and then gathered it and transferred it to the Aspen river, Robert Thurman spoke around the elegance of our minds, the Campana brothers brought there Brazilian bouncy exuberance, there was a discussion on the neurological effect of the rhyming couplet, the self-proclaimed Queen of Kitsch spoke, all under the grand tent of the Bauhaus project in the mountains of America.

In all of that, what stuck out in my mind was the term retrodictable.   A speaker used it to describe our relationship to a great design experience and the idea of it has hung around in my vernacular. The word has been floating right at the edge of my interests ever since , a koan, or poem, or spirit at the edge, unpacked & materialized but very much present.

If a story, music, outcome could be considered predictable, then retrodictable is the understanding of how things came to be.  The perfect chain of events that we see that helps us to understand completely where we are now.

The feeling that this understanding engenders, I know more than I can explain.  I am not sure how completely clear this definition of retrodictable is, but it is something to look for in the world of technology.

We are so focused on predicting the next stage of our technological evolution that we rarely look back to understand how we arrived at this place and whether the predictions & retrodictions assemble a direction that we desire.